Saturday, October 02, 2004

As sharp sticks in the eye go, that wasn't so bad

I had the surgery last Wednesday. That would be the cornea transplant surgery referenced in a previous post.

I arrived at the Gramercy Outpatient Surgery Center a bit before 7:00 a.m. I filled out a few forms, and after a not annoyingly long wait was taken back to the place where they stick needles in you and things, which they did in the nicest possible way.

They hooked me up to the blood pressure cuff and the machine that goes “ping,” the nurse/technician ran through my medical history, and then asked which eye they were going to perform the surgery on. I said “left,” and she asked me to point to my left eye. Which I did. And then she put a sticker over my left eye. Just so there wouldn’t be any confusion later, I imagine.

Next came the only painful part of the procedure. After spending a longer than average time patting the back of my hand trying to get the vein to do whatever it’s supposed to do, the nurse gave me a shot of something to numb my hand when the put in the IV. It stung a bit. The IV didn’t hurt at all.

Then the anesthesiology staff came around and ran through my medical history again and explained what they were going to do. Basically, this involved knocking me out for about five minutes when they’d give me a shot in my eye to numb it during surgery. The assured me that, although I’d be awake during the surgery, I wouldn’t care.

So the anesthesiologist told me there might be an ache in my hand when they started the anesthetic. I waited for the ache that never came, and next thing I knew, I felt like my eye had been taped shut. And there was something stuck in my nose that itched. It was an oxygen tube, presumably to wake me up. Which it did. I asked if my eye was taped shut, and they told me that it had a balloon on it. I didn’t ask what that meant.

I don’t remember a whole lot of what happened after that. I vaguely remember being wheeled into the operating room I remember looking up and seeing a sheet. I thought about asking whether they’d pulled the sheet over my face because I’d died on the table, but I thought better of it. Instead, I think I thanked them for covering my other eye so I couldn’t see what they were doing. I think they adjusted the anesthetic, because I don’t remember anything after that. Except vaguely seeing something through the eye they were operating on, but I think they were done by that time.

I somehow ended up sitting in a chair in the recovery room. I vaguely remember getting off the gurney and sitting down. I had a metal “eye shield” taped over my eye. I sat there for a not terribly long time, and was gone by 9:30. They told me I’d feel some “discomfort” after 6 or 7 hours when the shot in the eye wore off.

My compliments to the cast and crew at the Gramercy Outpatient Surgery Center. They were frighteningly competent and made eye surgery as comfortable as humanly possible. They all did a really fine job.

I’ll get to that “discomfort” part later. I’ve about exhausted my ability to look at a computer screen for the time being.



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